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Showing posts from April, 2020

Look! Triplet Goslings!

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What a wonderful surprise to wake up one morning and find fluffy goslings by the pond! This pair of geese comes to the Carrell Wildlife Preserve every year, but we haven’t seen babies for quite some time. They’ve had nests in weird places, so we assume the worst, but not this time! They found a great location to raise their triplets.


I’m still working from home, so I’m using my coffee breaks to watch the babies. Ok, and some other times, too. They are absolutely fascinating while they try out their wings and their swimming skills. Danny had to convince them to move a little the other day while he was out mowing, and he said the goslings would actually submerge when he went by, apparently their defense mechanism while they’re young.

This may sound silly, but I covet your prayers for our little family. It’s been so long since they had babies, and I would love for these geese parents to raise all three of them to be big, strong adult geese. We’re just so glad that they’re here on the pr…

Words For Wednesday

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Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies With Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

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One of the easiest and tastiest cookies in the world is the peanut butter cookie. With just three ingredients, my favorite peanut butter cookies can be ready at a moment’s notice. And how wonderful is it to have cookies within minutes of your craving?

So let’s step it up a notch today. Instead of having plain cookies, we’re going to make peanut butter sandwich cookies with a peanut butter buttercream frosting in the middle! All I can say is ... yes, please!

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 almond milk
1 Tbsp vanilla syrup

1. Cream butter and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth.

2. Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

3. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk until frosting is completely combined and totally fluffy.

Arise And Build - After You Clear Out The Underbrush

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The top of our driveway became a wilderness area. If you had told me a small group of explorers had gotten lost in the brush, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Finally (finally, finally), we had an entire Saturday off and no rain in the forecast, so it was time to tackle this area and see if there really was a rock wall still under there. Somewhere. Maybe.

So over the course of the next seven hours, we cleared out 10 trailer loads of invasive species. I was reminded of the verses in Nehemiah that talk about God blessing the people because they had a mind to work. They rose up and built the wall because they knew the work needed to be done. Clearing brush isn’t fun, but the end result can be pretty amazing when you stick with it. (Get it? Stick, like we were gathering sticks? This is where you laugh.)

The difference in this space is jaw-dropping. After having done nothing in the area for almost 10 years, we couldn’t be more pleased. There really is rock underneath all those leaves, so g…

My “Make Today Count” Planner Layout

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It’s going to be a crazy, busy week. I’m not sure if knowing that ahead of time is daunting or if it’s good because I can prepare for it. Either way, having a fun and encouraging planner layout for the next seven days is going to be a blessing - Make Today Count!

All the embellishments I used in this spread are from the Happy Planner productivity sticker book, plus a binder clip washi tape that is too cute for words. All of the phrases are positive, uplifting and encouraging, which are necessities when you’re going full speed ahead! I always add letter stickers to the food planning section because the ones on the page don’t match the days on the facing page. Weird.

And May starts this Thursday! Can you believe it? March and April were such crazy months that I’d believe just about anything at this point. The extra space on this last page of April gave me room for a few more words of encouragement. I’m sure I’ll need them by then!

Our Newest Bird Nest

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For several years we’ve had a wren nest built on top of our garage security light. The baby birds have been adorable, and it’s been so neat to watch them grow and fly away into the world. This year is super special because a mama robin has built her nest under the eaves outside our living room window.

To be honest, we didn’t even know it was there until the dogs started barking at birds on the window sill. When you spot it up there in the corner of the roof, you’ll understand why it took us a while to find it.

And Mama is very serious about the nest building process. There are no eggs yet, but she just has that “don’t mess with nothin’” look about her. She is very aware of our presence, and she gets pretty cranky when the puppies go out on the deck.

She has definitely picked a great location for her nest, up above all the hustle and bustle, but also tucked away out of the wind and rain. That location also means we can look out the window and right down into her nest, which is going t…

Gift Tags Upcycle Project

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If you go back to the early days of our country, when the land was being settled and bank accounts were minuscule, women had to get as much use out of every little thing that they could. That’s how feed sack dresses, stew made out of leftovers and gardens grow from kitchen scraps came to be. We definitely don’t have to struggle under the circumstances the way those women did, but it’s with that same mindset that we’re navigating these new waters of pandemic.

So, using a similar mentality, I’ve been looking for projects around the house that require no outside supplies but have creative ways to upcycle and reuse what I have on hand. Having multiples of one birthday card is a great place to start.

When I upcycle used greeting cards, I never use parts that have writing in them or on them. Instead, I get to cut out and around and salvage every piece and image that I can. These flower boxes just jumped off the cards and shouted “I’m a gift tag!” You can hear it, too ... right? 

Because th…

Vegetable Beef Stew

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On that super cold day last week when we had six inches of snow (yes, in April), it was the perfect time to create a new stew. I grabbed a few items from the pantry, one from the freezer and one from the refrigerator to create a thick, hardy stew. If I were a betting woman, I’d say you could probably make this recipe right this minute, too.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
Steak seasoning to taste
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground basil
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1/8 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp molasses

1. In a large soup pot, brown ground beef and season with your favorite steak seasoning.

2. When meat is browned, add onion powder, garlic powder and basil. Stir to combine.

3. Add all remaining ingredients to the soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for an additional  20 minutes.

Words For Wednesday

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DIY Burlap Wood Crosses

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When our local craft store closed due to the pandemic, I made the decision to take advantage of the situation and shop from my own craft stash. Seriously, how easy is it to just wander the aisles of a store and grab stuff you really don’t need. These crosses came from that decision - we always have wood out in the shop, the ribbon is left over from our Tree Branch Wreaths and the flowers were used on bulletin boards at the church. It doesn’t get much better than that! 

The wood we had was pretty pale (on the right), so I stained both pieces with a golden oak finish.

On the back I attached an alligator tooth picture hanger and two rubber stoppers. It’s so much easier to do this at the beginning than later when the front is already decorated.

Then I cut eight lengths of ribbon, two sets for each board, with enough length to wrap around and glue to the back. 

Before gluing down the ribbon, I ran a piece of twine underneath each length of ribbon, about a third of the way down from the to…

Staying Near The Lord Every Day

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It wasn’t until after the evening service last night that I realized both songs we sang for special music were about drawing near to God. It should have been obvious, I suppose, but it also means that He was doing something in our hearts and (prayerfully) in the lives of those who listened to the services online yesterday.

What it did make me think about was the importance of being as near to God has we possibly can.

But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. Psalm 73:28

When we’re not staying as close to Him as we possibly can, we feel it.
We’re more frustrated.
Anger rears its ugly head.
Confusion sets in.
Relationships seem more difficult.
Our words have an edge to them.
We’re quick to speak and slow to listen.

But when we’re near the Lord in every way, we feel that, too.
We can choose peace over frustration.
Calm overrides the negativity.
Clarity of thought settles in when we need it most.
Love and compassion c…

My “Oh My Goodness, There Are Puppies Everywhere!” Planner Layout

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Sometimes our house feels exactly like this planner layout. I couldn’t resist putting together something completely different and completely fun for this week! There's nothing that lifts your spirits the way puppies do, so this week they’re everywhere. 

I also didn’t realize how many dog-themed paper craft supplies I have, so that was a fun discovery. I used card stock stickers and puffy, 3D paw prints as my embellishments. The days of the week letters are the only ones that came from a planner set of stickers.

Since every day recently has been “Take Your Dog To Work Day,” I can’t wait to have my planner open and looking all cute. I know it’s going to be a good, busy week, and it will be great to smile every time I sit down to plan and organize. Keeping track of my work is fun when my planner looks like this!

Molly Jo, The Four-Legged Love Of My Life

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This is the Molly Dog. She is the four-legged love of my life. She is 112 pounds of sweetness and everything wonderful. 

We found out this weekend that Molly has the beginnings of arthritis, which is especially common in Great Danes. We were hoping that with some German Shepherd mixed in she wouldn’t have the typical joint problems, but we knew she would probably have some sooner or later. She’s 6 1/2 years old now, so it’s understandable.

She’s been having some trouble getting up and down, especially first thing in the morning, so we put her on joint supplements and doggy aspirin. That’s helped tremendously, but we took her to the vet today and they put her on some stronger stuff. It’s made her a little restless, but it’s also made her a little more playful and social with the puppies. Sort of.

So for the time being she’s doing great, especially knowing she’s getting older. We won’t be running any marathons with her or have her run up and down the stairs (neither of which we were do…

An Upcycled Garden Planner From A Little Golden Book

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The snow is coming down hard and heavy here in southeast Iowa, with about 6 inches expected. There’s no better time than now to show you the garden planner I just finished, upcycled from a vintage Little Golden Book! I feel warmer already...

Let me start by saying that I never cut up a perfectly good book. When I work with one of these children’s books, they have to have damage, drawing in them or be about ready to fall apart. Sometimes I’ll have duplicates and choose the one in better condition to keep and the other to craft with. That’s how these pages came to be - the pictures on the other side weren’t great and the spine was breaking, so all I had to do was cut out the pictures, mat them on card stock and embellish them with chipboard, acrylic dots and journal blocks.

But I have to admit that there are three sets of pages that are my favorites. They are decorated on the front and open up to make drawing space, giving the die-hard gardener a place to dream and plan and draw out wh…

Sausage And Cheese Omelettes

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There’s nothing better than having breakfast for dinner. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s so much fun to pull out the waffle maker, bake some cinnamon rolls and cut up fruit in the evening. And isn’t that what being an adult is all about - you can have ice cream for breakfast and breakfast for dinner whenever you want? I thought so.

When we make omelettes at our house, we always use our smallest cast iron skillets. They’ve been seasoning for decades, and they’re absolutely perfect for 3-egg omelettes. I use a butter non-stick spray, and I never turn the stove up past medium high. They’re small enough that they burn too easily if the heat is too high.

The secret ingredient for the perfect omelette? A splash of milk after you’ve beaten the eggs really well. It makes them super fluffy and much lighter than with eggs alone. Then I add salt and pepper to taste. I wrap it up with some diced turkey sausage and shredded cheese.

After mixing this all together and get it in the skillet, I le…

Words For Wednesday

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The Psalmist’s To-Do List

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Have you ever wished you could wake up in the morning, check out your planner and have your day all mapped out? Wouldn’t that be easier than stressing out over priorities, schedules and what needs to get done today? You could just check things off your list and not worry about the planning part. Sound good?

Well, since that’s not going to happen (sorry), let’s look at the same concept in our Christian life. So often we want a check list of what we need to do today to be a good follower of Jesus Christ. Don’t make me read or study or anything that requires effort - just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.

As terrible as this sounds, we’ve actually been given several of those lists in the Bible, and God would love for us to use them.

What rules to follow: Exodus 20:1-17
What to think on: Philippians 4:8
What is required of us: Micah 6:8
What the Lord’s greatest commandments are: Matthew 22:35-40

Look at that - lists! Not lists to check off as we’ve accomplished things, but lists …

My “Songs Of The Faith” Planner Layout

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Have you ever had one of those mornings when you woke up with a song on your heart and in your mind? It flowed through you all day, and you couldn’t help but sing along. That’s what God’s music does to me, and this week’s planner layout is going to do the same thing! 

Music is a huge part of who I am. I started reading music and playing the piano when I was four and I’ve never looked back. One of my favorite memories of practice time was spending the last few minutes playing through the hymnal. Those moments permanently burned Scripture and lyrics and music into my brain and my heart. On the left page of my planner, I’m reminded of just a few of my favorite hymns from those practice sessions - with lots of space for notes and lists.

I honestly have no idea what this week will bring, but I’m looking forward to writing my schedule onto this right hand planner page. And I’m looking forward to singing these two hymns the whole time! What hymns and spiritual songs have been in your head r…

A Prayer For Easter Morning

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Gracious Heavenly Father, I thank You for the beautiful day You’ve given us this Easter morning. Thank You for the opportunity to worship You in Spirit and in Truth, regardless of where the day finds us. While the circumstances surrounding this pandemic have separated us physically, we will never be separated from You. We come before You this special morning to praise You for the gift of Your Son more than 2,000 years ago. His sacrifice for us means eternal life with You and a change of relationship with You here on earth, and we are beyond grateful for that gift. Please continue to bless us in Your exceedingly abundant ways as we live for You. Let the sunrise of this new day - and each day to come - be reminders that You spoke light into darkness on the first day of creation, and brought Light into the darkness of the world on that first glorious Easter. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, Amen and Amen.

Easter And Spring Baking With New Pans!

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This week just feels like a baking kind of week - have you ever had one of those? The pantry is full of ingredients and you have new pans you want to try out? Add in some extra time you don’t normally have and you can spend all day in the kitchen?

Whenever I go thrifting or holiday shopping, I always look for fun and unusual baking pans. Click here for a peek at my baking cabinet. So, while in a spring kind of mood, I pulled out two flower pans that I hadn’t used yet and went into experimentation mode.

For the cookie flowers on the left, I used a package of precut, refrigerated cookie dough - white chip macadamia nut to be precise. I probably won’t use a chunky dough in this pan again because it’s pretty shallow, but they’re still totally yummy! I broke each piece of dough in half and pressed each half into a flower. They only need 6 minutes in the oven, so the goodness was almost immediate! The pan is designed to make a cavity in the center of each cookie, so I filled them with stra…

Words For Wednesday

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Easter Lily And Other Napkin Folds

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Create a beautiful Easter tablescape with a lily napkin fold! Start by ironing a cloth napkin so it is smooth and flat.

Lay it on the table wrong-side up.

Fold it in half corner to corner and with the point away from you.

Fold the two points up to meet the top point.

Flip the napkin over and fold the bottom point about 2/3 of the way up.

Flip the napkin back over and loop the left point into the middle.

Loop the right point into the middle and tuck it into the left side. Now you can stand it up and decorate it however you’d like!
Interested in more napkin folding tutorials? Check out the links below: Pyramid Napkin Fold Rose Napkin Fold Fleur de Liz Napkin Fold Heart Napkin Fold Tree Napkin Fold

Why The Passion Story Should Lift Us Up Today

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In today’s dark and uncertain climate, the last thing we want to do is read a story that is equally dark and cruel. At any other time we would read the Passion story in all four gospels, harmonize them and share some important and powerful verses.

But right now, this week seems painful enough. We are scared, separated and sure of nothing. We have never been in this place before, and the unknown is a frightening place to be.

What better time, then, to read the story of Jesus Christ’s last week on earth? He faced the powers of darkness and evil on the field of battle, and He walked away triumphant and victorious. Jesus knows your heart, understands your pain and promises you an ending to your story that’s just as wonderful and miraculous as His.

Are you lonely today? Jesus was abandoned by everyone who claimed to love Him, even the friend who pledged his life to Him, so He understands your loneliness.

Are you scared today? Jesus walked into the courts to face His accusers, keeping our …

My “Holy Week” Planner Layout

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This is my favorite week of the year, where the culmination of all time comes to the single moment of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. I wanted planner pages this week that would reflect the awe and the gratitude I have for this ultimate sacrifice for my salvation.

I have a pretty substantial collection of Christian-themed stickers and paper, so it was very easy to pull out images and phrases for Easter week. I love the bright, bold colors and the striking cross images - which are empty, by the way, because Jesus is no longer there! Praise the Lord!

This week is going to be fairly busy, so I left plenty of space for lists and for schedules. But I also left room for notes about the importance of this week in Christian history and prayers for our community and our country. As I write in my planner this week, I will be constantly reminded of Christ’s resurrection and my belief in this miracle. It’s going to be a great week!

Puppies In The Sunshine

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We interrupt your ordinary day to bring you puppies in the sunshine! Praising the Lord today for the bright sun, warm temperatures and the best dogs ever.